You-review-it Monday: Grammy Awards and more

February 14, 2011
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For me, the weekend included Ashley Brown's appearance with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Hoosier Bard's "Young Hamlet" offering. (More on both in an upcoming column.)

I also tuned in to most of the Grammy Awards and found the majority of the musical performances above the awards-show average. Particularly winning was the crazily talented Janelle Monae, a pint-sized powerhouse with the energy of James Brown and the smoothness of James Bond. 

What about you? When it comes to the Grammys, did you prefer Lady Gaga's egg, Muse's fusion of rebelious rock and theatrical staging, the old-school work of legends Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, or one of the many other musical acts?

And did you see anything else this weekend?

Your thoughts?

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  • Grammys
    I agree with you, Lou, about Janelle Monae--what a powerful performer! Muse was stellar--an updated 80s vibe. Loved Bruno Mars--what a talent. Of course Lady Gaga was her amazing self. I recorded the rest and can't wait to hear them.
  • Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt
    Two performers, two guitars, one stage. One of the best shows I've ever seen!
  • Ashley Brown
    Having first seen her in "Disney: On the Record", it was clear that Ashley Brown was someone to watch. This weekend, she showed even more of the polish she gained doing Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" and the title character in "Mary Poppins". The brand new revue was polished and fun with a good mix of standards and Disney tunes. The Disney medley was fabulous. Kudos to Fred Barton for the arrangements.
  • grammy whammies
    I'll agree that Monae's talent is undeniable, but Bruno B was flat, vocally and stylistically.
    The fist hour was a real pain for me to watch as a musician. The "tribute" to Aretha was insulting to anyone that loves soul music. And gaga? She later thanked Whitney Houston which must me code for Madonna. There is a difference between homage, borrowing, and regurgitation. Gaga danced badly, didn't sing, and didnâ??t even TRY to make her organ playing look real (which is weird because she can play.) But then the Avett Bros. played with emotion, Monae really sang, and the Arcade fire, despite a horrible audio mix, played the way that has made them the world renowned band they are. It felt weird to enjoy the program after cringing so much.
  • 1 show, 1 book, many choices
    I enjoyed the "Hairspray" musical at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre last Thursday night and am determined to post a review of it on my own blog tonight, come hell or high water.

    In the meantime, I am indulging in a quick, lunchtime ramble here on your blog, Lou.

    I read and enjoyed a new novel:
    Bound, by Antonya Nelson (Bloomsbury 2010.)

    I received this book as a gift. I almost didn't read it because I thought it was going to be something dreary and/or gory about a serial killer and a missing teen and I was just not in the mood for that.

    However, the opening (told from a dog's point of view) pulled me in and I eventually discovered that this is a cleverly layered, beautifully written, and richly satisfying story told from the points of view of many different characters. It is "literary" so I found myself jotting down phrases that delighted me, but the author's skill with language is an enrichment to the storytelling, not a detriment. In other words, you don't get bogged down trying to figure out what is going on.

    It is basically about a woman and a teen who find out that another woman (the teen's mom) died in a car accident. The dead woman left guardianship of her daughter to her best friend from high school, even though they have not been in touch since they graduated and she ran away from Wichita, Kansas, where the first woman still lives. The daughter runs away from her uncomfortable east coast boarding school when she hears that her mother is dead. The living woman tries to figure out how her once wild friend came to be a mother, and whether or not she (the still alive woman) wants to even deal with the missing teenager.

    The serial killer plays only a small, mostly off-stage role as a figure in people's newspapers and imaginations, and there are only a few, brief descriptions of his actions. (Whew!) He serves as only one of many interesting takes on the multi-faceted theme of being bound by friendship, family, marriage, pet ownership, and more.

    I confess that I had never heard of the award-winning Antonya Nelson before this, but now I want to see what her other books are like.

    Since this is Wednesday, I am already thinking about next weekend's performance art plans. As usual, I will look forward to reading your picks, Lou, in your Thursday email, but I already know that I will go to the Indiana History Center on Saturday night to enjoy the music, poetry, and storytelling of Minton Sparks, an event presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana.

    Beyond that, I am not sure.

    I would like to catch "Goldie, Max, and Milk" at the Phoenix Theatre and "The Diary of Anne Frank" at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, but I think I have two more weekends for each of them. Each has some of my "destination actors" in it: Sarah Rieman and Angela Plank in the Phoenix show; Constance Macy, Rob Johansen, Brian Noffke, and Sam Fain in the IRT show.

    Also, just off the top of my head without looking at any of the community theatre calendars, the "3 Arab Plays" anthology show at the Indy Fringe Theatre intrigues me. It is only in town this weekend.

    But I'm not sure, yet, what all I'm going to see. Or read, for that matter. Isn't it great that we have so many intriguing choices?

    Okay, back to work...

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit

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